tv United Nations 21st Century LINKTV July 20, 2016 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT
announcer: coming up on "21st century," one man's courage changes the world. and from italy, despair and suffering: migrant stories. dale van boven: it is inexplicable and indefensible for the united d nations not to react urgently to situations of gross violations of human rights. man: south america in the 1970s and early eieighties, hundreds of thousands of people were tortured, killed,
and disappeared under military dictatorships. van boven: ouour primary duduty is towards the peoples in whose name the united nations charter was written. bertie ramamcharanhehe was by fr the greatest t human rights leader the e u.n. has ever had. van boven: my name is dale van boven. i was the director of the united nations for humaman righs fromom 1977 to 1982.
tom mccarthy: there was a lot of presessure of all kinds from certain governments, hahaving ththeir secret service agentnts in the cocorridors looking after what t we were doing, followingg what the ngos were doing, threatening people, putting pressure on other govevernments. latin america had strong dictatorships. ngos couldn't mention government names in the commission for violations. van boven: it is inexplicable and indefensible for the united
nations notot to react urgently to situations of gross violations of human rights. ramcharan: it was entirely unheard of that a human rights director would take vigorous positions. everything that a senior u.n. official did was s closely monitored, and so it was his great t breakthrough that he decided to act,t, and in some instances to speak out publicly against gross violatioions of human rights. van boven: there is a tendency, at that timeme at least, that the u.n. should rememain low-ke. ssome felt that i was too outspoken. quiet diplomacy y is perhaps whwhat they ouought. momore productive tthan to speak u up. i think this is very questionable, this position.
van boven: when, for instance, the coup d'état occurred in chil a specialal public procedure was created. josé zalaquett: the military felt that they had to give the impression right from day one that t they meant t business, thereforere they bombed the palace of governments. heraldo munoz: september 11, that was a dark day and a bit rainy. after that, i wouould say that the life of a a whole generation of chileaeans changed. [music plays] zalaquett: the military authorities managed to take control of the whole of the country, putting in prison thousands of people.
van boven: on the first day of our official visit, we had to pay a sortrt of courtesy vist to the head of state. ththat was pininochet. he was sitting there all byby himself in a tower, in his office. the desk before him was clean. he accused the u.n., the working group, of serving the communist purpoposes. this we ststngly refututed. it was argued that t s country was known for committing seriouviolatns of huma rights, and we wanted to investigate that on the spot. in fact, the general became very angry. mccarthy: the chile report may well have been the e first u.n. report that showed how thehe military dictatorship can stroy thliving staards of pepele, and could s it
whewe went the. noz: thenternaonal comttee kno through the nvesestitions th were rried out by human rights missions from europe, dale van boven. we never thought that it would be the level of murder or torture or disappearance of exiles. it can happen anywhere. mccarthy: the next big cchallenge for us after chile were the disappearances, in particular in argentina, but in other countries, too.
mccarthy: one o of the first things that theo o did was to open his officice and our office to victims and to their representatives. meeting people o o have bee tortured is very different than reading reports sent in by nongovernmental organizations. van boven: the mothers, the m madres, the abuelas, they wewere very visiblble and well known, and as a groupup
of committed women, i think, who were directly involved, that had a great impact on public opinion. van boven: disappeared children. the government claims that it wawaall a partrt of terrorism and terrist gan, and the question was p put, are thee litittle children, are they also terrororists? alberto d'alotto: in the seventies, i was in exile in france after havingng left my country. i started to work in the struggle for human rights, and i hearard about whatat was takig
place here i in geneva in thiss very sasame place, room 17 of the palais des nations. there was a person working here in this place, and it w was dale van boven. for the first time, an important person in the u.n. appeared to say, listen, in argentina sosomething terribe is happening. we have to pay attentioion to that. in terms of what was the struggle to restore democracy and human rights in argentina, ththat was a very important poit in his dictatorship. van boven: efforts were made in thehe commissision on humanan rs in 191979 to establish a working group on disappeared personons, but this was bblocked by argentina and othehers. now it was a year later that this initiative e was successfu, and so the e working groupp was established in 1980. rather late, but better late than never. mccarthy: it happened in
el salvador and guatemala, indonesia, in ththe philippipin. we covered 15 countries in our first r report. the next year, by 1981 and 1982, we could list many people whose lives s had been saved becauause we were able to get aa cable to the government telling them that we had information that this person has been kidnapped, and they needed to release himim. and that hadad worked and still works today for many, many people. ramcharan: he was by far the greatest human rights leader the u u.n. has ever had. that's what i would say. van boven: i've always felt that our primary duty is towards the peoples in whose name the united nations charter was written. and i haveve maintained that whenever necessary, we must speak out on matters of principle regardless of whom we please or displease within
or outside the organization. mccarthy: even today, governments make big efforts to stop the united nations from investigating their human rights practices. and the question is if it didn't matter, why would they make such an investment? van boven: we do have to care for the dignity of people, and solidarity is an extremely important issue to mak the wowod worth h ving in. ifif the averarage person only cares about t him or herself, then that is a world of mental poverty.
we should try not to set our s standards on the basis of mental poverty, but on solidarity with fellow human beingsgs from far awayay or just close by. leonard doyle: you know, migration is the oldest adaptation strategy that man knnows. reporter: in europe, it's the biggest movement of people since world war ii.
that man knows. if you think about it,t, how people spread d around t the wod rough migrgration, so we're nott talking about somethingng that's just been invented in the last couplple of months or weeks now that we're paying more atattention to it in the media. doyle: i mean, the italians, because they arere closest, if you will, to nonorth africa, they take an enormous number. many of these migrants and
refugees wish to go through italy very quickly and move on to sweden, where they may have family, or germany, where they knonow there's s a chance of a . soso the italianans have beeeen exextraordinarily generous. they've funded the mare nostrum maritime rescue operation for two y years. they've saved h hundreds of thousandnds of lives, and they continue to do so. but ththey're in a tough place, too, because like every country, they y have their own domestic politics, and there's a backlash against migrants. migrants are not very favorably looked on.
doyle: refugees are people who are entitled to asylum under the 1951 geneva convention, but outtside of thatat group, you he a huge number of vulnerable people who don't necessarily neatly fit the category. those could be unaccompanied minors, and there are tens of thousands of those who've moved across into europe. victims of trafficking, sexual trarafficking. the biggest victims of trafficking are labor migrants, who are being abused. so what are they? are they economic migrants or are they somehow fitting closer into the refugee category?
doyle: the victims really are the people who are suffering. a lot of the result ofof that is that people have a dim view of mimigrants. whereas the reality is that migrantsts enrich anand help socicieties flourish, diverifify societies, and without them, you're going to be stuck in a tough place. but the mood music certainly in europe isn't very favorable towards migrants at the moment.
narrator: the u.n. refugee agency,y, unhcr, calls for stabilization measures in europe, incding strg support to countries hosting refugees and migrants, information campaigns on the dangers of the sea journey, and legal pathways to seek protection in europope. announcer: coming up on a future episode of "21st century..."
[man singing in spanish] sami: finnish crooner reijo taipale sang about the land of fairy tales in the year of 1963. by then, f finland h a already been intoxicated by tango for 3 decades. in the early days of the twentieth century, tango drifted to the nordic shores on the e backs of sailors and traveling music men. i first got interested in this music when i heard the bad boy of the argentine ta